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I Ian Maclaren and Others 


4 fCal %^ 

BV 205 .152 1898 
Carpenter, William Boyd, 

In answer to prayer 

In Answer to Prayer 

More things are wrought by prayer 
Than this world dreams of . . 
. . . What are men better than sheep or goats 
That nourish a blind life within the brain, 
If knowing God, they lift not Iiands of prayer, 
Both for themselves and those who call them friend ? 


In Answer to Prayer 


The Right Rev. the BISHOP OF 
RIPON, The Rev. Dr. CUYLER, 
(" IAN Maclaren "), The Rev. 
SHAW, The Rev. Dr. HORTON, 
The Rev. H. PRICE HUGHES, The 




John Wilson and Son, Cambridge, U. S. A. 


The following pages were origmally written for 
the Sunday Magazine. In their present form 
it is hoped that they will reach another and 
not less appreciative public. 

Although Dr. Watson's contribution is of a 
character quite distinct fro7n the other papers^ 
it treats of a phase of religious experience so 
closely allied to that of answered prayer that 
it seems in the present collection to serve as a 
stage of transition from the sphere of the unseen 
and spiritual to that of the visible and tangible. 




By the Right Rev. W. Boyd Carpenter, Lord 

Bishop of Ripon 1 1 

By the Rev. Theodore L. Cuyler, D.D., of 

New York 19 

By the Rev. John Watson, M.A., D.D. 

("Ian Maclaren") 27 

By the Rev. Canon Knox Little, M.A. . . 39 

By Mr. William Quarrier, of Glasgow . . 49 

By Mr. Leonard K. Shaw, of Manchester . 67 

By the Rev. R. F. Horton, M.A., D.D. . . 75 

By the Rev. H. Price Hughes, M.A. . . 89 

By the Rev. J. Clifford, M.A., D.D. . . loi 
By the Very Rev. G. D. Boyle, M.A., Dean 

of Salisbury "9 

By the Right Rev. 


Lord Bishop of Ripon 

I HAVE been asked to write some thoughts 
on answers to prayer. I am afraid that 
I cannot give from personal experience 
vivid and striking anecdotes such as others 
have chronicled. God does not deal with all 
aHke, either in His gifts of faith or in those 
of experience. We differ also in the use we 
make of His gifts. But if I mistake not the 
object of these papers is not merely to gather 
together an array of startling experiences, but 
rather to unite in conference on the great 
subject of prayer and the answers to prayer. 

12 In Answer to Prayer 

No doubt every Christian spirit holds 
within his memory many cherished experi- 
ences of God's dealings with him, and these 
must touch the question of prayer. But the 
greater part of these experiences belong to 
that sanctuary life of the soul which, rightly 
or wrongly, we keep veiled from the world. 
There are some matters which would lose their 
charm if they were made public property. 
There is a reticence which is of faith, just as 
there may be a reticence which is of cowardice 
or unfaith. But like the little home treasures, 
which we only open to look upon when we 
are alone, so are some of the secret treasures 
of inward experiences. Nevertheless, none 
of us can have lived and thought without 
meeting with a sort of general confirmation or 
otherwise of the efficacy of prayer; and 
though I cannot chronicle positive and 
striking examples, I can say what I have 

I have known men of a naturally timid and 
sensitive disposition who have grown at 
moments lion-like in courage, and they would 
tell you that courage came to them in prayer. 

In Answer to Prayer 13 

I have known one man, who found himself 
face to face with a duty which was unexpected 
and from which he shrank with all his soul. 
I have known that such a one has prayed 
that the duty might not be pressed upon him, 
and yet that, if it were, he might be given 
strength to fulfil it. The duty still confronted 
him. In trembling and in much dismay he 
undertook it; and when the hour came, it 
found him calm and equable in spirit, neither 
dismayed nor demoralised by fears. Such a 
one might not tell of great outward answers 
to prayer; but inward answers are not less 
real. At any rate, the Psalmist chronicled 
an answer such as this when he wrote : " In 
the day when I cried Thou answeredst me 
and strengthenedst me with strength in my 
soul" (Psalm cxxxviii. 3). 

There is, further, a paradox of Christian 
experience which may be noted. The soul 
which waits upon God finds out sooner or 
later that the prayers which seem to be un- 
answered are those which may be most truly 
answered. For what is the answer to prayer 
which the praying heart looks for? There 

14 In Answer to Prayer 

is no true prayer without the proviso — Never- 
theless not what I will, but what Thou wilt. 
In other words, there is no true prayer with- 
out reliance upon the greater wisdom and 
greater love of Him to whom we pray. Thus 
it is that God's answer may not be the answer 
as we looked for it. We form our expecta- 
tions : they take shape from our poor little 
limited surroundings; but the prayer in its 
spirit may be wider than we imagine. To 
answer it according to our expectations 
might be not to answer it truly. To answer 
it according to our real meaning — i.e., ac- 
cording to our spiritual desire — must be 
the true answer to prayer. 

One illustration will suffice. A man, 
pressed by difficulty and straitness, may 
pray that he may be moved to some place 
of greater freedom and ease. He thinks 
that he ought to move elsewhere. He prays 
for guidance and the openings of God's 
providence. In a short time a vacant post 
presents itself: he applies for it, it is just 
the thing he wished for. He continues his 
prayers. The post is given to another. His 

In Answer to Prayer 15 

prayers have not been answered : such is his 
conclusion ; but is not the answer really — 
" Not yet — not yet — wait awhile. My grace 
is sufficient for thee"? He waits; he leaves 
his life in God's hands. After an interval 
another opening occurs, and almost without 
an effort he is moved to the vacant place. 
It is this time, perhaps, not the kind of place 
he thought of; it is less interesting, it is 
more onerous, it fills him with fear as he 
undertakes its duties. He has prayed, but 
the answer came not as he wished or thought 
or hoped. The years go by. He looks back 
from the vantage-ground of distance. He 
can measure his life in better proportions. 
He sees now that the movements of his life 
have a deep meaning. He perceives that to 
have gone where he wished to have gone, 
and even where he prayed to be placed, 
would have been to miss some of the best 
experiences and highest trainings of this life. 
He begins to reahse that there is not a spot 
which he has visited, not a place where he 
has toiled, which has not brought to him 
lessons that have been most helpful, nay, 

1 6 In Answer to Prayer 

even needful, in his later life. He sees that 
God has sent him here or there to fit him 
for work which, unknown and unexpected in 
his earlier days, the future was to bring. 

The least-answered prayer may be the 
most-answered. It is the realisation that 
experiences fit us for the duties of later life 
which yields to us the assurance that in the 
deepest sense our seemingly disregarded 
prayers have been most abundantly remem- 
bered before God. Thus, indeed, we can 
enter into the spirit of familiar words and 
acknowledge concerning each prayer that 
it is 

" Goodness still, 
Which grants it or denies." 

And so it may come to pass in later life 
that our specific petitions for this or that 
thing may grow fewer. We may realise 
more and more our own ignorance in asking. 
We may rely more and more on the divine 
wisdom in giving. Even in the case of others 
we may recognise the unwisdom of asking 
many things on their behalf. Our love would 
tenderly shield them from rough winds and 

In Answer to Prayer 17 

bitter hours. We pray that the divine love 
would spare them dark days; and yet, are 
the prayers well prayed? Does God not 
lead souls through darkness into light? Is 
not the Valley of the Shadow the precursor 
of the table of love which God spreads? 
Can the head be anointed with God's kingly 
oil which has not been bowed down in the 
darkness? Ah! how little we know! how 
short-sighted we are! And how great and 
full and strong God's love is! And, this 
being so, may not experience bring us larger 
trust and lesser prayers — not less, indeed, in 
intensity, not less in the wrestling of spirit; 
not less in the striving to reach nearer to 
God's will, but less in the number and spe- 
cific character of our petitions? To put it 
another way — the petitions are fewer be- 
cause the prayer is deeper and truer. 

" Not my weak longings, Lord, fulfil, 
But rather do Thy perfect will, 
For I am blind and wish for things 
Which granted bring heart-festerings. 
Let me but know that I am blind, 
Let me but trust Thee wondrous kind.'* 

By the Rev. 


OF New York 

ALL of God's mighty men and women 
have been mighty in prayer. When 
Martin Luther was in the mid-valley of his 
conflict with the man of sin he used to 
say that he could not get on without three 
hours a day in prayer. Charles G. Finney's 
grip on God gave him a tremendous grip 
on sinners' hearts. The greatest preacher 
of our times — Spurgeon — had pre-emi- 
nently the " gift of the knees ; " the last 
prayer I ever heard him utter (at his own 
family worship) was one of the most won- 

20 In Answer to Prayer 

derful that I ever listened to ; it revealed 
the hiding of his power. Abraham Lincoln 
once said : " I have been driven many times 
to my knees by the overwhelming conviction 
that I had nowhere else to go; my own 
wisdom and that of all around me seemed 
insufficient for the day." 

But what is prayer? Has every prayer 
power with God? Let us endeavour to get 
some clear ideas on that point. Some peo- 
ple seem to regard prayer as the rehearsal 
of a set form of solemn words, learned 
largely from the Bible or a liturgy; and 
when uttered they are only from the throat 
outward. Genuine prayer is a believing 
soul's direct converse with God. Phillips 
Brooks has condensed it into four words — 
a "true wish sent Godward." By it, adora- 
tion, thanksgiving, confession of sin, and 
petition for mercies and gifts ascend to the 
throne, and by means of it infinite blessings 
are brought down from heaven. The pull 
of our prayer may not move the everlasting 
throne, but — like the pull on a line from the 
bow of a boat — it may draw us into closer 

In Answer to Prayer 21 

fellowship with God, and fuller harmony 
with His wise and holy will. 

I. This is the first characteristic of the 
prayer that has power : " Delight thyself in 
the Lord and He shall give thee the desires 
of thy heart." A great many prayers are 
born of selfishness and are too much like 
dictation or command. None of God's 
promises are unconditional; and we have 
no such assets to our credit that we have a 
right to draw our cheques and demand that 
God shall pay them. The indispensable qual- 
ity of all right asking is a right spirit toward 
our heavenly Father. When a soul feels such 
an entire submissiveness towards God that it 
delights in seeing Him reign, and His glory 
advanced, it may fearlessly pour out its 
desires ; for then the desires of God and the 
desires of that sincere submissive soul will 
agree. God loves to give to them who love 
to let Him have His way; they find their 
happiness in the chime of their own desires 
with the will of God. 

James and John once came to Jesus and 
made to Him the amazing request that He 

22 In Answer to Prayer 

would place one of them on His right hand 
and the other on His left hand when He set 
up His imperial government at Jerusalem ! 
As long as these self-seeking disciples sought 
only their own glory, Christ could not give 
them the askings of their ambitious hearts. 
By-and-by, when their hearts had been re- 
newed by the Holy Spirit, and they had 
become so consecrated to Christ that they 
were in complete chime with Him, they 
were not afraid to pour out their deepest 
desires. James declares that, if we do not 
" ask amiss,'' God will *' give liberally." 
John declares that '* whatsoever we ask, we 
receive of Him, because we keep His com- 
mandments and do those things that are 
pleasing in His sight." Just as soon as 
those two Christians found their supreme 
happiness in Christ and His cause they 
received the desires of their hearts. 

2. The second trait of prevaihng prayer is 
that it aims at a mark, and knows what it is 
after. When we enter a store or shop we 
ask the salesman to hand us the particular 
article we want. There is an enormous 

In Answer to Prayer 23 

amount of pointless, prayerless praying 
done in our devotional meetings; it begins 
with nothing and ends nowhere. The model 
prayers mentioned in the Bible were short 
and right to the mark. *' God be merciful 
to me a sinner ! " " Lord, save me ! " cries 
sinking Peter. " Come down, ere my child 
die ! " exclaims the heart-stricken nobleman. 
Old Rowland Hill used to say, " I like short, 
ejaculatory prayer; it reaches heaven before 
the devil can get a shot at it." 

3. In the next place, the prayer that has 
power with God must be a prepaid prayer. 
If we expect a letter to reach its destination 
we put a stamp on it ; otherwise it goes to 
the Dead-letter Office. There is what may 
be called a Dead-prayer Office, and thou- 
sands of well-worded petitions get buried up 
there. All of God's promises have their con- 
ditions; we must comply with those condi- 
tions, or we cannot expect the blessings 
coupled with the promises. No farmer is 
such an idiot as to look for a crop of wheat 
unless he has ploughed and sowed his fields. 
In prayer, we must first be sure that we are 

24 In Answer to Prayer 

doing our part if we expect God to do His 
part. There is a legitimate sense in which 
every Christian should do his utmost for the 
answering of his own prayers. When a cer- 
tain venerable minister was called on to pray 
in a missionary convention he first fumbled 
in his pocket, and when he had tossed the 
coin into the plate he said, '' I cannot pray 
until I have given something." He prepaid 
his prayer. For the Churches in these days 
to pray, ** Thy kingdom come," and then 
spend more money on jewellery and cigars 
than in the enterprise of Foreign Missions, 
looks almost like a solemn farce. God has 
no blessings for stingy pockets. When I 
hear requests for prayer for the conversion 
of a son or daughter, I say to myself, How 
much is that parent doing to win that child 
for Christ? The godly wife who makes her 
daily life attractive to her husband has a 
right to ask God for the conversion of that 
husband ; she is co-operating with the Holy 
Spirit, and prepaying her heart's request. 
God never defaults ; but He requires that we 
prove our faith by our works, and that we 

In Answer to Prayer 25 

never ask for a blessing that we are not 
ready to labour for, and to make any sacri- 
fice to secure the blessing which our souls 

4. Another essential of the prayer that has 
power with God is that it be the prayer of 
faith, and be offered in the name of Jesus 
Christ. " Whatsoever ye shall ask in my 
name, that will I do, that the Father may 
be glorified in the Son." The chief " wrest- 
Hng" that we are to do is not with any 
reluctance on God's part; it is with the 
obstacles which sin and unbelief put in our 
pathway. What God orders we must sub- 
mit to uncomplainingly ; but we must never 
submit to what God can better. Never sub- 
mit to be blocked in any pious purpose or 
holy undertaking if, with God's help, you can 
roll the blocks out of your pathway. The 
faith that works while it prays commonl^,^ 
conquers ; for such faith creates such a con- 
dition of things that our heavenly Father can 
wisely hear and help us. Oh, what a mag- 
nificent epic the triumphs of striving, toiHng, 
victorious faith make ! The firmament of 

26 In Answer to Prayer 

Bible story blazes with answers to prayer, 
from the days when Elijah unlocked the 
heavens on to the days when the petitions 
in the house of John Mark unlocked the 
dungeon, and brought liberated Peter into 
their presence. The whole field of providen- 
tial history is covered with answered prayers 
as thickly as bright-eyed daisies cover our 
Western prairies. Find thy happiness in 
pleasing God, and sooner or later He will 
surely grant thee the desires of thy heart. 


By the Rev. 


("Ian Maclaren") 

DURING the course of my ministry, and 
especially of recent years, I have been 
moved to certain actions for which there 
seemed no reason, and which I only per- 
formed under the influence of a sudden 
impulse. As often as I yielded to this in- 
ward guidance, and before the issue was 
determined, my mind had a sense of rehef 
and satisfaction, and in all distinct and im- 
portant cases my course was in the end 
most fully justified. With the afterlook one 
is most thankful that on certain occasions he 

28 In Answer to Prayer 

was not disobedient to the touch of the 
unseen, and only bitterly regrets that on 
other occasions he was callous and wilful or 
was overcome by shame and timidity. What 
seem just and temperate inferences from 
such experiences will be indicated after they 
have been described, and it only remains for 
me to assure my readers that they are se- 
lected from carefully treasured memories, 
and will be given in as full and accurate 
detail as may be possible in circumstances 
which involve other people and one's own 
private life. 

It was my privilege, before I came to 
Sefton Park Church, to serve as colleague 
with a venerable minister to whom I was sin- 
cerely attached and who showed me much 
kindness. We both felt the separation keenly 
and kept up a constant correspondence, while 
this good and affectionate man followed 
my work with spiritual interest and constant 
prayer. When news came one day that he 
was dangerously ill it was natural that his 
friend should be gravely concerned, and as 
the days of anxiety grew, that the matter 

In Answer to Prayer 29 

should take firm hold of the mind. It 
was a great relief to learn, towards the end 
of a week, that the sickness had abated, 
and when, on Sunday morning, a letter came 
with strong and final assurance of recovery 
the strain was quite relaxed, and I did my 
duty at morning service with a light heart. 
During the afternoon my satisfaction began 
to fail, and I grew uneasy till, by evening 
service, the letter of the morning counted 
for nothing. 

After returning home my mind was torn 
with anxiety and became most miserable, 
fearing that this good man was still in danger 
and, it might be, near unto death. Gradually 
the conviction deepened and took hold of 
me that he was dying and that I would never 
see him again, till at last it was laid on me 
that if I hoped to receive his blessing I must 
make haste, and by-and-by that I had better 
go at once. It did not seem as if I had now 
any choice, and I certainly had no longer 
any doubt; so, having written to break two 
engagements for Monday, I left at midnight 
for Glasgow. As I whirled through the 

30 In Answer to Prayer 

darkness it certainly did occur to me that I 
had done an unusual thing, for here was a 
fairly busy man leaving his work and going 
a long night's journey to visit a sick friend, 
of whose well-being he had been assured on 
good authority. By every evidence which 
could tell on another person he was acting 
foolishly, and yet he was obeying an almost 
irresistible impulse. 

The day broke as we climbed the ascent 
beyond Moffat, and I was now only con- 
cerned lest time should be lost on the way. 
On arrival I drove rapidly to the well-known 
house, and was in no way astonished that the 
servant who opened the door should be 
weeping bitterly, for the fact that word had 
come from that very house that all was going 
well did not now weigh one grain against my 
own inward knowledge. 

" He had a relapse yesterday afternoon, 
and he is . . . dying now." No one in the 
room seemed surprised that I should have 
come, although they had not sent for me, 
and I held my reverend father's hand till he 
fell asleep in about twenty minutes. He was 

In Answer to Prayer 31 

beyond speech when I came, but, as we be- 
lieved, recognised me and was content. My 
night's journey was a pious act, for which I 
thanked God, and my absolute conviction is 
that I was guided to its performance by 
spiritual influence. 

Some years ago I was at work one fore- 
noon in my study, and very busy, when my 
mind became distracted and I could not 
think out my sermon. It was as if a side 
stream had rushed into a river, confusing and 
discolouring the water; and at last, when 
the confusion was over and the water was 
clear, I was conscious of a new subject. 
Some short time before, a brother minister, 
whom I knew well and greatly respected, had 
suffered from dissension in his congregation 
and had received our sincere sympathy. He 
had not, however, been in my mind that day, 
but now I found myself unable to think of 
anything else. My imagination began to 
work in the case till I seemed, in the midst 
of the circumstances, as if I were the sufferer. 
Very soon a suggestion arose and grew into 
a commandment, that I should ofl"er to take 

32 In Answer to Prayer 

a day's duty for my brother. At this point 
I pulled myself together and resisted what 
seemed a vagrant notion. " Was such a 
thing ever heard of, — that for no reason save 
a vague sympathy one should leave one's 
own pulpit and undertake the work of an- 
other, who had not asked him and might not 
want him? " So I turned to my manuscript 
to complete a broken sentence, but could 
only write '' Dear A. B." Nothing remained 
but to submit to this mysterious dictation 
and compose a letter as best one could, till 
the question of date arose. There I paused 
and waited, when an exact day came up be- 
fore my mind, and so I concluded the letter. 
It was, however, too absurd to send ; and so, 
having rid myself of this irrelevancy, I threw 
the letter into the fire and set to work again ; 
but all day I was haunted by the idea that 
my brother needed my help. In the evening 
a letter came from him, written that very 
forenoon, explaining that it would be a great 
service to him and his people if I could 
preach some Sunday soon in his church, and 
that, owing to certain circumstances, the ser- 

In Answer to Prayer 33 

vice would be doubled if I could come on 
such and such a day; and it was my date! 
My course was perfectly plain, and I at once 
accepted his invitation under a distinct sense 
of a special call, and my only regret was that 
I had not posted my first letter. 

One afternoon, to take my third instance, 
I made up my list of sick visits and started 
to overtake them. After completing the 
first, and while going along a main road, I 
felt a strong impulse to turn down a side 
street and call on a family living in it. The 
impulse grew so urgent that it could not be 
resisted, and I rang the bell, considering on 
the doorstep what reason I should give for 
an unexpected call. When the door opened 
it turned out that strangers now occupied 
the house, and that my family had gone to 
another address, which was in the same street 
but could not be given. This was enough, 
it might appear, to turn me from aimless 
visiting, but still the pressure continued as if 
a hand were drawing me, and I set out to 
discover their new house, till I had disturbed 
four families with vain inquiries. Then the 

34 In Answer to Prayer 

remembrance of my unmade and imperative 
calls came upon me, and I abandoned my 
fruitless quest with some sense of shame. 
Had a busy clergyman not enough to do 
without such a wild-goose chase? — and one 
grudged the time one had lost. 

Next morning the head of that household 
I had yesterday sought in vain came into 
my study with such evident sorrow on his 
face that one hastened to meet him with 
anxious inquiries. '^ Yes, we are in great 
trouble; yesterday our little one (a young 
baby) took very ill and died in the afternoon. 
My wife was utterly overcome by the shock 
and we would have sent for you at the time 
but had no messenger. I wish you had been 
there — if you had only known ! " 

"And the time? " 

'' About half-past three." 

So I had known, but had been too im- 

Many other cases have occurred when it 
has been laid on me to call at a certain 
house, where there seemed so little reason 
that I used to invent excuses, and where I 

In Answer to Prayer 35 

found some one especially needing advice 
or comfort; or I called and had not cour- 
age to lead up to the matter, so that the 
call was of no avail, and afterwards some 
one has asked whether I knew, for she had 
waited for a word. Nor do I remember 
any case where, being inwardly moved to go 
after this fashion, it appeared in the end 
that I had been befooled. And so, having- 
stated these facts out of many, I offer three 

(i) That people may live in an atmosphere 
of sympathy which will be a communicating 
medium. When some one appears to read 
another's thoughts, as we have all seen done 
at public exhibitions, it was evidently by 
physical signs, and it served no good pur- 
pose. It was a mechanical gift and was used 
for an amusement. This is knowledge of 
another kind, whose conditions are spiritual 
and whose ends are ethical. Between you 
and the person there must be some common 
feeling; it rises to a height in the hour of 
trouble; and its call is for help. The cor- 
respondence here is between heart and heart, 

36 In Answer to Prayer 

and the medium through which the message 
passes is love. 

(2) That this love is but another name for 
Christ, who is the head of the body; and 
here one falls back on St. Paul's profound 
and illuminating illustration. It is Christ 
who unites the whole race, and especially all 
Christian folk, by His incarnation. Into 
Him are gathered all the fears, sorrows, 
pains, troubles of each member, so that He 
feels with all, and from him flows the same 
feeling to other members of the body. He 
is the common spring of sensitiveness and 
sympathy, who connects each man with his 
neighbour and makes of thousands a living 
organic spiritual unity. 

(3) That in proportion as one abides in 
Christ he will be in touch with his brethren. 
If it seem to one marvellous and almost in- 
credible that any person should be affected 
by another's sorrow whom he does not at the 
moment see, is it not marvellous, although 
quite credible, that we are so often indifferent 
to sorrow which we do see? Is it not the 
case that one of a delicate soul will detect 

In Answer to Prayer 37 

secret trouble In the failure of a smile, in 
a sub-tone of voice, in a fleeting shadow 
on the face? "How did he know?" we 
duller people say. " By his fellowship with 
Christ " Is the only answer. " Why did we 
not know?" On account of our hardness 
and selfishness. If one live self-centred — 
ever concerned about his own affairs, there 
is no callousness to which he may not yet 
descend ; if one live the selfless life, there is 
no mysterious secret of sympathy which may 
not be his. Wherefore if any one desire to 
live in nervous touch with his fellows, so that 
their sorrows be his own and he be their 
quick helper. If he desire to share with Christ 
the world burden, let him open his heart to 
the Spirit of the Lord. In proportion as we 
live for ourselves are we separated from our 
families, our friends, our neighbours ; in pro- 
portion as we enter into the life of the Cross 
we are one with them all, being one with 
Christ, who is one with God. 


By the Rev. 

Canon of Worcester 

PRAYER is a comprehensive word and 
includes, in fact, all communion be- 
tween the soul and God. It is, however, 
commonly used to mean the asking for 
benefits from God. Christians believe that 
prayer is a power, that it does act in the 
fulfilment of God's purposes, and that the 
results of prayer are real results, not only in 
the spiritual, but also in the physical world. 
This is no mere matter of opinion, it is part 
of the Christian faith. For better, for worse, 
however difficult the doctrine may appear, 

40 In Answer to Prayer 

the Church is committed to it. As in the 
case of other difficult doctrines, such as the 
resurrection of the body for instance, she, so 
to speak, *' stakes her reputation " on loyalty 
to this truth. 

The power of prayer is, of course, a mys- 
tery, i. e.y a truth, but a truth partly concealed, 
partly plain. To deal with it, therefore, in a 
mathematical temper rather than a moral 
temper is absurd if not wrong. Mathematical 
demonstration cannot be given for moral 
truth, and is in fact out of court. The bent 
of mind formed by constant scientific re- 
search — good as it is in its own province — 
sometimes unfits men for moral and theolo- 
gical research. In this way the " difficulties 
of prayer" are often exaggerated, (i) It is 
said God knows already; why tell Him? 
The same objection would apply to many 
a request on earth. (2) It is said God fore- 
sees ; why try to influence what He knows is 
sure to be? This objection applies to all 
our actions; to follow out this we should 
not only not pray, but also never do any- 
thing. We are in face of a mystery. A little 

In Answer to Prayer 41 

humility and obedience to revelation helps 
us out. It has been truly said that when a 
practical and a speculative truth are in appa- 
rent collision, we must remember our igno- 
rance of a good many things, and act with 
the knowledge which is given us, on the 
practical truth. 

Prayer, we may remember, is not to change 
the holy counsels of the Eternal, but to 
accomplish those ends for which it is an ap- 
pointed instrument. Anyhow, this is certain, 
the abundant promises to faithful and per- 
severing prayer are kept, and — where God 
sees it to be good for us — they are kept to 
the letter. The following are examples which 
come within the knowledge of the writer of 
this paper. 

A family, consisting of a number of chil- 
dren, had been brought up by parents who 
had very '* free " ideas as to the divine 
revelation and the teaching of the Church. 
The children, varying in age from seven or 
eight, to one or two and twenty years, had, 
one way or another, been aroused to the 
teaching of Scripture and desired to be bap- 

42 In Answer to Prayer 

tised. The father point-blank refused to 
permit it. The older members of the family 
consulted a clergyman. He felt strongly 
the force of the fifth commandment and 
advised them not to act in haste, to realise 
that difficulties do frequently arise from 
conflicting duties, and above all to pray. 
The clergyman asked a number of devout 
Christians to make the matter a subject of 
prayer. They did. In about three weeks 
the father called upon this very clergyman 
and asked him to baptise his children. The 
clergyman expressed his astonishment, be- 
lieving that he was opposed to it. The 
father answered that that was true, but he 
had changed his mind. He could not say 
precisely why, but he thought his children 
ought to be baptised. They were ; and he, 
by his own wish, was present and most 
devout at the administration of the sacra- 
ment of baptism. 

A few years ago, a clergyman in London 
had been invited to visit a friend for one 
night in the country in order to meet an old 
friend whom he had not seen for long. It 

In Answer to Prayer 43 

was bitter winter weather and he decided 
not to go. Walking his parish in the after- 
noon, he beheved that a voice three times 
urged him to go. He hurriedly changed his 
arrangements and went. The snow was 
tremendously deep, and the house of his 
friend, some miles from the railway station, 
was reached with difficulty. In the course 
of the night the clergyman was roused from 
sleep by the butler, who begged him to go 
and visit a groom in the service of the 
family, who was ill and '' like to die." Cross- 
ing a field path with difficulty, as the snow 
was very deep, they reached the poor man's 
house. He had been in agony of mind and 
longed to see a clergyman. When it was 
found impossible to fetch the nearest clergy- 
man, owing to the impassable state of the 
roads, he had prayed earnestly that one 
might be sent to him. The poor fellow died 
in the clergyman's arms in the early morning, 
much comforted and in great peace. 

A strangely similar case happened more 
recently. An American gentleman travelling 
in Europe was taken suddenly and seriously 

44 In Answer to Prayer 

ill in one of our northern towns. The day 
before this happened, a clergyman, who was 
at a distance in the country, was seized with 
a sudden and unaccountable desire to visit 
this very town. He had no idea why, but 
prayed for guidance in the matter, and 
finally felt convinced that he must go. 
Having stayed the night there he was about 
to return home, rather inclined to think 
himself a very foolish person, when a waiter 
in the hotel brought him an American lady's 
card and said that the lady wished to see 
him. He was the only English clergyman 
of whom she and her husband had any 
knowledge. They had happened to hear 
him preach in America. She had no idea 
where he lived, but when her husband was 
taken ill she and her daughter had prayed 
that he might be sent to them. On inquiry, 
strange to say, he was found to be in the 
hotel, and was able to render some assist- 
ance to the poor sufferer, who died in a few 
hours, and to his surviving and mourning 

A still more striking instance, perhaps, is 

In Answer to Prayer 45 

as follows: Some years ago in London a 
clergyman had succeeded, with the help of 
some friends, in opening a " home " in the 
suburbs to meet some special mission needs. 
It was necessary to support it by charity. 
For some time all went well. The home at 
last, however, became even more necessary 
and more filled with inmates, whilst subscrip- 
tions did not increase but rather slackened. 
The lady in charge wrote to the clergyman 
as to her needs, and especially drew his 
attention to the fact that ;£40 was required 
immediately to meet the pressing demand 
of a tradesman. The clergyman himself was 
excessively poor, and he knew not to whom 
to turn in the emergency. He at once went 
and spent an hour in prayer. He then left 
his house and walked slowly along the streets 
thinking with himself how he should act. 
Passing up Regent Street, a carriage drew 
up in front of Madame Elise's shop, just as 
he was passing. Out of the carriage stepped 
a handsomely dressed lady. " Mr. So-and- 
so, I think," she said when she saw him. 
" Yes, madam," he answered, raising his hat. 

46 In Answer to Prayer 

She drew an envelope from her pocket and 
handed it to him, saying : " You have many 
calls upon your charity, you will know what 
to do with that." The envelope contained a 
Bank of England note for ;^50. The whole 
thing happened in a much shorter time than 
it can be related ; he passed on up the street, 
she passed into the shop. Who she was he 
did not know, and never since has he learnt. 
The threatening creditor was paid. The 
" home " received further help and did its 
work well. 

Another example is of a different kind. A 
person of real earnestness in religious ques- 
tions, and one who gave time and strength 
for advancing the kingdom of God, some 
years ago became restless and unsatisfied in 
spiritual matters, faihng to enjoy peaceful 
communion with God, and generally upset 
and uneasy. The advice of a clergyman was 
asked, and after, many conversations on the 
subject, he urged steady earnest prayer for 
light, and agreed himself to make the matter 
a subject of prayer. Within a fortnight, after 
an earnest midday prayer, it was declared by 

In Answer to Prayer 47 

this troubled soul that it had been clearly 
borne in upon the mind that the sacrament 
of baptism had never been received. En- 
quiry was made, and after much careful 
investigation it was found that, while every 
other member of a large family had been 
baptised, in this case the sacrament had been 
neglected owing to the death of the mother 
and the child being committed to the care of 
a somewhat prejudiced relative. The person 
in question was forthwith baptised, and imme- 
diately there was peace and calmness of mind 
and a sense of quiet communion with God. 

Instances of this kind might be multiplied, 
but these are, perhaps, sufficient. " In every- 
thing," says the Apostle, " by prayer and 
supplication with thanksgiving (the Euchar- 
ist) let your requests be made known unto 
God." ** Cast all your care upon Him, 
for He careth for you." The power of the 
"prayer of faith" is astonishing in its effi- 
cacy, if souls will only put forth that power. 
I am able to guarantee, from personal knowl- 
edge, the truth and accuracy of the above 

By Mr. 


OF Glasgow 

FOR twenty-five years it has been with 
me a continual answer to prayer. The 
first seven of my service were spent in caring 
for the rough boys of the streets of Glasgow, 
but having made a vow, when I was very 
young, that if God prospered me I should 
build houses for orphans, I was not satis- 
fied with that work among the bigger boys. 
Being in business, however, and having a 
family to maintain, the question of whether 
I could do more was a difficult one. I was 
giving eight hours a day to the work, and in 

50 In Answer to Prayer 

the Shoe-black Brigade, the Parcels Brigade, 
and the Newspaper Brigade had probably 
about three hundred boys to care for. 

While I considered what could be done, 
a lady from London — Miss Macpherson — 
called, and in the course of our talk about 
the little ones, she urged that I should at- 
tempt something more than I was doing. 
For three months I prayed to God for 
guidance, and in the end resolved that if 
He sent me i^2000, I should embark in the 
greater work. Nobody knew of that reso- 
lution; it was a matter between God and 
myself. If God wanted me to do more 
work than I was doing, I felt that He would 
send me the ;^2000, not in portions, but in 
a sohd sum. I was then before the pubhc, 
and I wrote a letter to the newspapers plead- 
ing that something more should be done 
for street children, pointing out that the 
Poorhouse and the Reformatory were not 
the best means of helping child-life, and 
urging that something on the Home or 
Family system was desirable. There was a 
strong conviction that God would answer 

In Answer to Prayer 51 

the prayer, and, the terms of the prayer 
being explicit, I believed the answer would 
be as unmistakable. After waiting thirteen 
days the answer came. Amongst my other 
letters was one from a Scotch friend in Lon- 
don, to the effect that the writer would, to 
the extent of ^2000, provide me with money 
to buy or rent a house for orphan children. 
When I received that call I felt that my 
family interests and my business interests 
should be second, and that God's work 
among the children should be first. 

To a business man, it was a call to sur- 
render what you would call business tact. I 
had to rise up there and then, and proclaim 
in the midst of the commercial city of Glas- 
gow, that from that moment I was to live by 
faith, and depend on God for money, wisdom 
and strength. From that time forward I 
would ask no man for money, but trust 
God for everything. That ^£2000 was the 
first direct answer to prayer for money. He 
gave me the utmost of my asking, and I felt 
that I would need to give Him the utmost 
of the power I pledged. 

52 In Answer to Prayer 

We rented a common workshop in Ren- 
frew Lane — it was very difficult to get a 
suitable place — to lodge the children in, 
and that little place was the first National 
Home for Orphans in Scotland, and from 
it has sprung what the visitor may see to- 
day amongst the Renfrewshire hills. One 
day, I remember, two boys came in, and we 
had everything to clothe them with except 
a jacket for one of them. The matron, a 
very godly woman, said, *' We must just 
pray that God will send what is needed," 
and we prayed that He would. That night 
a large parcel of clothing came from Dum- 
barton, and in it was a jacket that fitted the 
boy as if it had been made for him. That 
was a small thing, of course, but if you don't 
see God in the gift of a pair of stockings 
you won't see Him in a gift of ;^io,ooo. 

We had thirty children in that Home, and 
we kept praying that the Lord would open 
a place for us somewhere in the country. 
A friend called on me and offered to sub-let 
Cessnock House, with three acres of ground 
about it. Cessnock Dock has now absorbed 

In Answer to Prayer 53 

the place, and as it was just the very spot 
we wanted, we accepted. We had room for 
a hundred boys, and with the help of God 
we prospered. We had resolved formerly 
that we would send children to Canada, but 
it took ;£io per head to send them, and we 
were determined not to get into debt. We 
had only a few pounds in hand when we 
took the house in Govan Road, and it took 
^£"200 to alter it. But every night we prayed 
that the Lord would send money to pay for 
the alterations. Sums varying from 5^. to 
£^ came in, but when the bills came to be 
paid we were short ;^ioo. A friend not far 
from one of my places of business sent for 
me, and when I called, he said, " How are 
you getting on at Cessnock?" I said we 
were getting on nicely, and that we had got 
^100 towards the alterations. He gave me 
jQioOy to my astonishment, for I knew that 
he could not afford so much, but he said a 
relative who died in England had left him a 
fortune, and the money was to help me in 
the work God had given me to do. In that 
answer you see how God works mysteriously 

54 In Answer to Prayer 

to accomplish His purpose and help those 
who put their trust in Him. 

God gives us great help in dealing with 
the wayward, wilful boys of the Home. 
They are generally lads who have known 
no control; but we are able, with God's 
blessing on our efforts, to get them to do 
almost anything that is wanted, without strap 
or confinement or threat. To hear boys 
who used to curse and swear praying to 
God, and to see them helping other boys in 
the Home, is to me the most encouraging 
feature of the work God has given me to 
do. Whilst I sought to clothe and educate 
them, I left God to deal with them in their 
spirits ; and to-day the result of the spiritual 
work amongst the boys and girls of Glas- 
gow exceeds anything I ever expected. 

I still thought of the emigration scheme, 
and in 1872 we had sixty children that were 
able to go to Canada. Of course it meant 
jQ6oo to send them, and we had the neces- 
sary money except ^JO in the end of June. 
We prayed on that God would send the 
balance before the day of sailing, 2nd July. 

In Answer to Prayer 55 

A friend called at one of my places of busi- 
ness to see me, and subsequently I had an 
interview with him. He gave me ;£50, and 
said it was from one who did not wish the 
name mentioned. ** What shall I put it 
to?" I asked. *' Anything you like," he 
said. " We are short of £jo for the emi- 
gration of our first band of children to 
Canada, and if you like I shall put it to 
that." " Do so," he said ; and as the man 
left I saw God's hand in the gift that had 
been made. When I went home that night 
I found amongst my letters one in which was 
enclosed ^10 "to take a child to Canada," 
and the post on the following morning 
brought two five-pound notes from other 
friends, making up exactly at the moment 
it was needed the sum I had asked God 
to give. 

In addition to the Homes, we carried on 
mission work amongst the lapsed masses, 
and, as in the case of the Homes, we were 
firmly resolved to do everything by prayer 
and supplication. I rented an old church at 
the head of the Little Dovehill, just where 

56 In Answer tq Prayer 

the Board school stands now, as a hall, but 
we did not have the whole of it. At the 
level of the gallery another floor had been 
introduced, and while we occupied the upper 
flat, a soap manufacturer occupied the lower. 
In a way it was a trial of faith to go up those 
stairs past the soap work into our hall. We 
wanted to open the place free of debt, and 
the money for the alterations came in gradu- 
ally. I remember putting it to the Lord to 
send a suitable evangelist if He wished the 
work to go on. At that time — twenty-four 
years ago — we heard a lot of Joshua Poole 
and his wife, who were having great blessing 
in London, and I thought that they were just 
the people to reach the working classes. But 
as I had convictions about women preaching, 

— which, by the way, I have not now, — I 
asked the Lord to send £^o to cover the 
expense for a month if it were His will that 
these friends should come to Glasgow and 
preach nightly during that period. I left it 
to God to decide whether we should ask 
these friends or not, and I had the assurance 

— the assurance of faith, — that the money 

In Answer to Prayer 57 

would come. When I went home that night 
I found that a friend had called at one of my 
places of business and left fifty one-pound 
notes without knowing my mind and without 
knowing I needed it. 

After that I felt that God was going to 
work a great work amongst the lapsed masses 
of Glasgow, and He did so. For six months 
we rented the Scotia Music Hall on Sab- 
bath evenings, and instead of a month the 
evangehsts were six in the city conducting 
services every night. When they left, ten 
thousand people gathered on the Green to 
bid them farewell. Hundreds were led to 
the Saviour. 

After a number of years' work in Glasgow 
with the Girls' Home, in Govan with the 
Boys' Home, and with the Mission premises, 
the need of a farm became great. I prayed 
for money to purchase a farm of about fifty 
acres, three miles or so from Glasgow. It 
was to have a burn running through it, good 
drainage, and everything necessary. I was 
anxious to get this burn for the children to 
paddle in and fish in ; but I feel now that at 

58 In Answer to Prayer 

the time I was rebellious against God in fix- 
ing the site so near Glasgow. We visited a 
dozen places, but the cost was so great that 
I was fairly beaten. God had shut up every 

A friend met me on the street, and asked 
if I had seen the farm in Kilmalcolm Parish 
that was to be sold. I replied that I had 
not, and that I considered the place too far 
away. In talking over the matter, he per- 
suaded me to go and see the farm, and when 
I did go, and, standing where our big central 
building is now, saw that it had everything I 
prayed for, — perfect drainage, and not only 
the burn, but a river and a large flat field for 
a recreation ground, — I said in my heart to 
the Lord: "This will do." Ever since I 
have blessed the Lord for that ; my way was 
not God's way, and so He shut us in amongst 
these Renfrewshire hills, away from the ways 
of men. 

After paying £^,^6o for the farm, we had 
about i^i,500 left, and in 1887 we began to 
build a church and school, to cost ;^ 5,000. 
I told the contractor that we should stop if 

In Answer to Prayer 59 

the money did not come in; but it kept 
coming in, and the work went on. In 1888 
I had resolved to go to Canada with the 
party of children going out that year, and I 
saw clearly that I would need to stop the 
contractors if I got no more money in the 
interval, for I was still ;^I400 short. Yet I 
beheved the Lord would send the money 
before I left in the latter end of May, though 
the time I write of was as far on as the 
middle of the month. I kept praying, and 
the assurance was strong that the money 
would come. Just three days before the 
date on which I was to sail, a friend came to 
me, and said it had been laid upon his heart 
to build one of the cottages at Bridge-of- 
Weir, but the Lord, he thought, would accept 
the money for the central building just as 
much as though it were put into houses, and 
he handed me ;^I300. 

All the money belonging to the Homes 
and all my own was in the City of Glasgow 
Bank when it failed, and hundreds of the 
givers were involved as well. On my way 
up from the Homes on the day of the dis- 

6o In Answer to Prayer 

aster, a gentleman met me, and told me the 
sad news. At the moment I realised what 
the news meant for me — my own personal 
loss and the needs of the Homes — for that 
was in September, and our financial year 
closed in October. With all our money 
locked up, to clear the year without debt 
would be difficult, but then the promise of 
God came: ''Although the fig-tree shall 
not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the 
vines ; the labour of the olive shall fail, and 
the fields shall yield no meat; the flock 
shall be cut off from the fold, and there 
shall be no herd in the stalls; yet I will 
rejoice in the Lord; I will joy in the God 
of my salvation." 

There and then I prayed that God would 
help me through, and that during the course 
of the following year, which I saw would be 
one of financial distress all over Scotland, 
He would double the gifts to us. The re- 
sult was that we were able to clear our 
financial accounts with ease at the end of 
October, and in the year following, when 
every church in Scotland, and every phil- 

In Answer to Prayer 6i 

anthropic work had less money than they 
needed, the Orphan Homes had double 
what they required. In that God honoured 
my trust. 

Our first church at Bridge-of-Weir only 
held four hundred, and by-and-by it was too 
small for us. I prayed that the Lord would 
give us a new church to hold one thousand 
people, and to cost something like ;^5000. 
We felt that we would get that money, and 
that we would get it in one sum because 
we had asked God to lay it on the heart 
of somebody to build the church. After a 
year of waiting and praying, a friend came 
to me in the street one day, and said, 
** r m going to build you that church you 
want. Do you know what it will cost?" 
♦'Yes," I repHed. " ;^5ooo." ''Well," said 
my friend, "you shall get the money when 
you want it." 

It was a new song of praise to God that 
day, I can tell you, and we went on to 
build our church. Now, even It we find 
too small, and we are praying to the Lord 
for £2^00 to enlarge the building, and en- 

62 In Answer to Prayer 

able us to accommodate five hundred more 

I thought that, having got the church, we 
might, as we were building a tower to hold 
the tank for our water supply, also get a 
clock and chimes to enliven the village. 
So we prayed that the Lord would send 
money for that purpose. I thought that 
about £soo or £600 would be sufficient. 
While the building was going on, we prayed 
for the money, and I was certain it would 
come. The architect was hurrying me and 
pointing out that if the clock and bells were 
really to go into the tower, the work must 
be done at once. I told him there was no 
fear that the money would not come. If 
the money had not come, and the tower 
was completed, the placing of the clock and 
bells at a later period would have meant 
practically taking down and rebuilding, be- 
cause with our water tank in position, the 
work would have been impossible. My 
architect kept bothering me, but I was sure 
the money would come, and one night I 
went home and found a cheque for ;f2000 

In Answer to Prayer 63 

— ;fi500 to build a house, and ;^500 for 
the clock and bells. The clock and bells 
cost £800, and the lady who sent the 
money paid the additional ;^300. 

A village like our Homes, with 1200 of 
a population, needed a good water supply 
for sanitary purposes. For a very long time 
we depended on a well, and stored the water 
in tanks, but frequently the supply fell short, 
and we felt that if we could get the proprie- 
tors in the upper district — none of the sur- 
rounding proprietors, by the way, had ever 
taken much interest in the work of the 
Homes — to give us the privilege of bringing 
water into the grounds, we should be able to 
do much to improve that state of matters. 
Sir Michael Shaw Stewart gave us the right 
to use our own burn higher up for the pur- 
pose, and gave us a piece of ground at a 
nominal rent of 12s. a year, for a reservoir 
and filter, but the money to carry out the 
work was not in hand, and we prayed to the 
Lord to send us from ;^I200 to ;^I400, which 
we anticipated would be the cost of the 

64 In Answer to Prayer 

Some time later a lady called at James 
Morrison Street (Glasgow), and left word 
that an old woman who lived in Main Street, 
Gorbals, wished to see me. On the following 
day I called at the address given, and found 
the person who had sent for me. She was 
an old woman living in a single apartment, 
and she was very ill and weak. " Are you 
Mr. Quarrier?" she asked. I said I was. 
" Ye were once puir yersel','' she went on ; 
" I was once a puir girl with naebody to care 
for me, and was in service when I was eleven 
years old. I have been thankful for a* the 
kindness that has been shown me in my life." 

She went to a chest of drawers in the 
corner of the apartment, and after a little 
came and gave me two deposit receipts on 
the Savings Bank, each for ^200, and on 
neither of which any interest had been drawn 
for twenty years. When I cashed them I 
received ^^627. 

I said ''Janet" — Janet Stewart was her 
name — *' are you not giving me too much? " 
" Na, na, I Ve plenty mair, an' ye '11 get it a' 
when I dee." 

In Answer to Prayer 6$ 

We did the best we could for Janet, but 
she did not live much longer. Within a 
week I received a telegram that Janet was 
dead, and she had died, I was told, singing 
"Just as I am without one plea." 

In her will she left several sums to neigh- 
bours who had been kind to her in life, and 
to our Homes was bequeathed the balance. 
Altogether the Orphans' share was ;^I400. 
The money defrayed the cost of our water 
scheme, and I always think how appropriate 
the gift was, for nearly all her life Janet had 
been a washerwoman and had earned her 
bread over the wash-tub. 

The direct answers to prayers of which I 
could tell you would fill a volume, and what 
I have mentioned are only those fixed in my 
memory. I have always asked God for a 
definite gift for a definite purpose, and God 
has always given it to me. The value of the 
buildings at Bridge-of-Weir is ;^200,ooo, and 
since we started, the cost of their *' upkeep " 
has been ;^i 50,000. And we are still build- 
ing as busily as in the beginning. 


By Mr. 

OF Manchester 

THE work for homeless children in Man- 
chester was cradled in prayer. Every 
step in preparation was laid before God. 
But what I want specially to insist upon 
is the real connection there is between 
prayer and work. From the first my practice 
has been to lay our wants before God in 
prayer, and at the same time to use every 
means within our reach to obtain what we 
desired. I well remember in the early days 
of the work how anxiously we discussed 
whether it was to be conducted on the 

68 In Answer to Prayer 

" faith " principle, as it is called, or on the 
*'work" principle. Looking back on the 
way by which we have come, it seems to 
me now that faith and work necessarily 
go together. Earnest believing prayer is not 
less earnest and believing because you use 
the means God has put within your reach. 
Your dependence upon God is just the 
same. You send out an appeal, but it is 
God who disposes the hearts of the people 
to subscribe. So I say the connection be- 
tween praying and working, though not 
always seen, is very real. Day by day the 
special needs of the work are laid before 
God, and day by day they are supplied. 

Of direct answers to prayer I have had 
many sweet and encouraging assurances, 
particularly in connection with our orphan 
homes. In the first five years of the work, 
we only took in boys between the ages of 
ten and sixteen. At that time of life, boys 
who have been brought up on the street are 
not ^asy to manage, and a friend to whom I 
was telling some of our difficulties, suggested 
that we should take the boys in younger. 

In Answer to Prayer 69 

To do so meant a new departure, and on 
going into the matter I found that a sum of 
about £600 would be needed to start such 
an orphan home as was suggested. I said 
to my wife, '* Let us pray about this ; if it is 
God's will that we should enter upon this 
new branch of work. He will send the 
money." We resolved that should be the 
test; if the money came we would start the 
home, otherwise we would not. Our annual 
meeting came round soon after, and in the 
report I made an appeal on behalf of the 
new scheme. The report was sent out with 
much prayer, but no individual person was 
asked to contribute. In a few days I 
received a letter from a gentleman residing 
in Southport, enclosing a cheque for £600, 
The house for the first of our orphan homes 
was bought for ;^500, and the balance of the 
cheque enabled us to furnish it. 

At the end of the following year, the 
home was full of fatherless and motherless 
little ones, and others were seeking admis- 
sion for whom there was no room. I sent 
out a second appeal, asking God to put it 

70 In Answer to Prayer 

into the heart of someone to provide a 
second home. A few weeks afterwards a 
lady well known in Manchester paid us a 
visit at the home and two days later I 
received from her a cheque for ;£"iooo. In 
this way we got our second home. Another 
year and this second home was also full. 
Again I prayed God to dispose the heart of 
some one to help us, and I sent out another 
appeal. One day, perhaps two or three 
weeks later, a gentleman stopped me in the 
street and said he had been wanting to see 
me for some days, as he had a cheque for 
;£700 waiting for me at his office. At the 
moment the orphan home was not in my 
mind, and I asked what the cheque was for. 
Why, he said, I understand your two orphan 
homes are full and that you want another. 
And so we got our third home. Another 
year and it too was full. Again after earnest 
prayer I received a cheque for ;£^iooo from 
another Manchester gentleman, who in some 
way had come to know that a fourth home 
was needed. 

In these four cases you have, I think, 

In Answer to Prayer 71 

remarkable instances of direct answer to 
prayer. So, at any rate, I must always regard 
them. I need not say how encouraged we 
were, year after year, to go on with the 
work, though each additional home meant a 
large increase in our annual expenditure. 

The money with which the fifth orphanage 
house was bought was not given in one sum 
nor specially for the purpose, and the cir- 
cumstances would not warrant me in saying 
that it came in direct answer to prayer. 
When a sixth home became necessary an 
appeal was made to the schoolgirls of Lan- 
cashire and Cheshire, and they found the 
;^500 for the purchase money. This house 
is called " The School Girls' Home." The 
inscription on the memorial stone, *' His 
children shall have a place of refuge," was 
suggested by the late Bishop of Manchester. 

In smaller, but perhaps not less important 
matters, we have had unmistakable proofs 
that God answers prayer. One case which 
occurred in the early days of the work greatly 
impressed me. A letter came one morning 
from Stalybridge asking us to take in five 

72 In Answer to Prayer 

little children who had been left destitute and 
without a friend in the world. I went over to 
make inquiries, and found the children in the 
same room with the dead body of their 
mother, which had little more to cover it 
than an old sack. Our means at that time 
were very small, and I thought we could 
hardly venture to take in all the children. 
The clergyman of the parish pleaded with 
me to take at least two or three. I asked 
what was to become of the others, and the 
answer was that there was nothing for them 
but the workhouse. What to do I did not 
know. I made it a matter of prayer, but all 
that night it lay upon my heart a great 
burden. Next morning I came downstairs 
still wondering what to do. Amongst the 
letters on my table was one from a gentle- 
man at Bowdon, enclosing, unasked, a cheque 
for ^50. In those days £^0 was an excep- 
tionally large sum for us to receive, and I 
took the letter as a direct word from God 
that we should accept the care of the chil- 
dren. We did so, and I am glad to say every 
one of them turned out well. 

In Answer to Prayer 73 

But direct answers to prayer are not con- 
fined to mere gifts of money. Over and 
over again during these twenty-seven years 
of rescue work I have put individual cases 
before God and asked Him to deal with 
them, and it is just wonderful how He has 
subdued stubborn wills and changed hearts 
and lives. 

Years ago there came to the Refuges the 
son of a man known to the Manchester 
police as " Mike the devil." Tom was as 
rough a customer as ever I saw, and for a 
time we had some trouble with him. But a 
great change came over him, and I have 
myself no doubt it was the result of personal 
pleading with God on his behalf. Tom is 
now an ordained minister of the Gospel in 
America, There is no end to the cases I 
could give of that kind. They all point to 
the same conclusion, that God does answer 
definite prayer. And to-day, after twenty- 
seven years of work, I praise Him for it. 


By the Rev. 

R. F. HORTON, M.A., D.a 

IT has sometimes seemed to me that God 
does not intend the faith in prayer to 
rest upon an induction of instances. The an- 
swers, however explicit, are not of the kind 
to bear down an aggressive criticism. Your 
Christian hves a Hfe which is an unbroken 
chain of prayers offered and prayers an- 
swered ; from his inward view the demon- 
stration is overwhelming. But do you ask 
for the evidences, and do you propose to 
begin to pray if the facts are convincing, and 
to refuse the practice if they are not? Then 

*]6 In Answer to Prayer 

you may find the evidences evanescent as an 
evening cloud, and the facts all suscep- 
tible of a simple rationalistic explanation. 
*' Prayer," says an old Jewish mystic, '' is the 
moment when heaven and earth kiss each 
other." It is futile as well as indelicate to 
disturb that rapturous meeting; and nothing 
can be brought away from such an intrusion, 
nothing of any value except the resolve to 
make trial for oneself of the '* mystic sweet 

I confess, therefore, that I read examples 
of answers to prayer without any great 
interest, and refer to those I have experi- 
enced myself with the utmost diffidence. 
Nay, I say frankly beforehand, " If you are 
concerned to disprove my statement, and to 
show that what I take for the hand of God 
is merely the cold operation of natural law, 
I shall only smile. My own conviction will 
be unchanged. I do not make that great 
distinction between the hand of God and 
natural law, and I have no wish to induce 
you to pray by an accumulation of facts — 
to commend to you the mighty secret by 

In Answer to Prayer 77 

showing that it would be profitable to you, 
a kind of Aladdin's lamp for fulfilling way- 
ward desires. Natural law, the hand of 
God ! Yes ! I unquestioningly admit that 
the answers to prayer come generally along 
lines which we recognise as natural law, and 
would perhaps always be found along those 
lines if our knowledge of natural law were 
complete. Prayer is to me the quick and 
instant recognition that all law is God's will, 
and all nature is in God's hand, and that all 
our welfare lies in linking ourselves with His 
will and placing ourselves in His hand 
through all the operations of the world and 
life and time. 

Yet I will mention a few ** answers to 
prayer," striking enough to me. One Sun- 
day morning a message came to me before 
the service from an agonised mother : " Pray 
for my child : the doctor has been and gives 
no hope." We prayed, the church prayed, 
with the mother's agony, and with the faith in 
a present Christ, mighty to save. Next day, 
I learned that the doctor who had given the 
message of despair in the morning had re- 

78 In Answer to Prayer 

turned, after the service, and said at once, 
" A remarkable change has taken place." 
The child recovered and still lives. 

On another occasion, I was summoned 
from my study to see a girl who was dying 
of acute peritonitis. I hurried away to the 
chamber of death. The doctor said that he 
could do nothing more. The mother stood 
there weeping. The girl had passed beyond 
the point of recognition. But as I entered 
the room, a conviction seized me that the 
sentence of death had not gone out against 
her. I proposed that we should kneel down 
and pray. I asked definitely that she should 
be restored. I left the home, and learned 
afterwards that she began to amend almost 
at once, and entirely recovered ; she is now 
quite strong and well, and doing her share 
of service for our Lord. 

And on yet another occasion I was hastily 
called from my study to see an elderly man, 
who had always been delicate since I knew 
him ; now he was prostrated with bronchitis, 
and the doctor did not think that he could 
Hve. It chanced that I had just been study- 

In Answer to Prayer 79 

ing the passage which contains the prayer of 
Hezekiah and the promise made to him of 
fourteen additional years of Hfe. I went to 
the sick man and told him that I had just 
been reading this, and asked if it might not 
be a ground for definite prayer. He assented, 
and we entreated our God for His mercy in 
the matter. The man was restored and is 
living still. 

These are only typical instances of what I 
have frequently seen. Many times, no doubt, 
I have prayed for the recovery of the sick 
and the prayer has not been answered. And 
you, dear and skeptical reader, may say if you 
will that this is proof positive that the in- 
stances of answered prayers are mere coin- 
cidences. You may say it and, if you will, 
prove it, but you will not in the least alter 
my quiet conviction; for the answers were 
given to me. I do not know that even the 
subjects of these recoveries recognise the 
agency which was at work. To me all this 
is immaterial. The subjective evidence is 
all that was designed, and that is sufficient, 
and to the writer conclusive. 

8o In Answer to Prayer 

With reference to money for Christian 
work, I have laboured to induce my own 
church to adopt the simple view that we 
should ask not men, but in the first instance 
God, the owner of it all, for what we want. 
I am thankful to say that some of them now 
beheve this, and bring our needs to Him 
very simply and trustfully. I could name 
many instances of the following kind : there 
is a threatened deficit in the funds of the 
mission, or an extension is needed and we 
have not the money. The sound of mis- 
giving is heard ; we have not the givers ; 
the givers have given all they can. *' Why 
not trust God?" I have urged. " Why not 
pray openly and unitedly — and believe?" 
The black cloud of debt has been dissipated, 
or the necessary extension has been made. 

Oddly enough, some people have said to 
me, " Ah, yours is a rich church," as if to 
imply one can very safely ask God for money 
when one has the people at hand who can 
give it. But surely this is a question of 
degree. My church is not rich enough to 
give one-tenth of what it gives, tf we did 

In Answer to Prayer 8i 

not first ask God for it. And there are 
churches which could give ten times what 
they do give, if only the plan were adopted 
of first asking God instead of going to 
the few wealthy people and trusting to 

But this is a matter of statistics and a little 
wearisome. I confess I am unsatisfied with 
answers to prayer when the prayer is only 
for these carnal and visible things, which are 
often, in boundless love and pity, withheld. 
The constant and proper things to pray for 
are precisely those the advent of which can- 
not be observed or tabulated ; that the king- 
dom may come, that they who have sinned, 
not unto death, may be forgiven, that the 
eyes of Christian men may be enlightened, 
and their hearts expanded to the measure of 
the love of Christ. Such prayers are an- 
swered, but the answers are not unveiled. I 
remember a strange instance of this. I was 
staying with a gentleman in a great town, 
where the town council, of which he was a 
member, had just decided to close a music- 
hall which was exercising a pernicious influ- 

82 In Answer to Prayer 

ence. The decision was most unexpected, 
because a strong party in the council were 
directly interested in the hall. But to my 
friend's amazement the men who had threat- 
ened opposition came in and quietly voted 
for withdrawing the licence. Next day we 
were speaking about modern miracles ; he, 
the best of men, expressed the opinion that 
miracles were confined to Bible times. His 
wife then happened to mention how, on the 
day of that council meeting, she and some 
other good women of the city had met and 
continued in prayer that the licence might 
be withdrawn. I ventured to ask my friend 
whether this was not the explanation of what 
he had confessed to be an amazing change 
of front on the part of the opposition. And, 
strange to say, it had not occurred to him 
— though an avowed believer in prayer — 
to connect the praying women and that 
beneficent vote. 

The truth is, all the threads of good which 
run across our chequered society, all the im- 
pulses upward and onward, all the invisible 
growths in goodness and grace, are answered 

In Answer to Prayer 83 

prayers. For our prayers for the kingdom 
are not uttered on the housetops ; and the 
kingdom itself cometh not with observation. 

But if it were not too dehcate a subject I 
could recite instances, to me the most re- 
markable answers to prayer in my experi- 
ence, of changed character and enlarged 
Christian life, resulting from definite inter- 
cession. It is an experiment which any 
loving and humble soul can easily make. 
Take your friends, or better still the mem- 
bers of the church to which you belong, and 
set yourself systematically to pray for them. 
Leave alone those futile and often misguided 
petitions for temporal blessings, or even for 
success in their work, and plead with your 
God in the terms of that prayer with which 
Saint Paul bowed his knees for the Ephesians. 
Ask that this person, or these persons, known 
to you, may have the enlightenment and ex- 
pansion of the Spirit, the quickened love and 
zeal, the vision of God, the profound sym- 
pathy with Christ, which form the true Chris- 
tian life. Pray and watch, and as you watch, 
still pray. And you will see a miracle, mar- 

84 In Answer to Prayer 

vellous as the springing of the flowers in 
April, or the far-off regular rise and setting 
of the planets, — a miracle proceeding before 
your eyes, a plain answer to your prayer, 
and yet without any intervention of your 
voice or hand. You will see the mysterious 
power of God at work upon these souls for 
which you pray. And by the subtle move- 
ments of the Spirit it is as likely as not that 
they will come to tell you of the divine bless- 
ings which have come to them in reply to 
your unknown prayers. 

But there are some whose eyes are not yet 
open to these invisible things of the Spirit, 
which are indeed the real things. The meas- 
ure of faith is not yet given them, and they 
do not recognise that web, — the only web 
which will last when the loom of the world is 
broken, — the web of which the warp is the 
will of God, and the woof the prayers of 
men. For these, to speak of the whole as 
answered prayer is as good as to say that no 
prayer is answered at all. If they are to 
recognise an answer it must be some tiny 
pattern, a sprig of flower, or an ammonite 

In Answer to Prayer 85 

figure on the fabric. Let me close, there- 
fore, by recounting a very simple answer to 
prayer, — simple, and yet, I think I can show, 

Last summer I was in Norway, and one of 
the party was a lady who was too delicate 
to attempt great mountain excursions, but 
found an infinite compensation in rowing 
along those fringed shores of the fjord, and 
exploring those interminable brakes, which 
escape the notice of the passengers on board 
the steamer. One day we had followed a 
narrow fjord, which winds into the folds of 
the mountains, to its head. There we had 
landed and pushed our way through the 
brush of birch and alder, lost in the mimic 
glades, emerging to climb miniature moun- 
tains, and fording innumerable small rivers, 
which rushed down from the perpetual 
snows. Moving slowly over the ground — 
veritable explorers of a virgin forest — pluck- 
ing the ruby bunches of wild raspberry, or 
the bilberries and whortleberries, delicate in 
bloom, we made a devious track which it 
was hard or impossible to retrace. Suddenly 

86 In Answer to Prayer 

my companion found that her golosh was 
gone. That might seem a sHght loss and 
easily replaced ; not at all. It was as vital 
to her as his snowshoes were to Nansen on 
the Polar drift ; for it could not be replaced 
until we were back in Bergen at the end of 
our tour. And to be without it meant an 
end of all the delightful rambles in the 
spongy mosses and across the liliputian 
streams, which for one at least meant half 
the charm and the benefit of the holiday. 
With the utmost diligence, therefore, we 
searched the brake, retraced our steps, re- 
called each precipitous descent of heather- 
covered rock, and every sapling of silver 
birch by which we had steadied our steps. 
We plunged deep into all the apparently 
bottomless crannies, and beat the brushwood 
along all our course. But neither the owner's 
eyes, which are keen as needles, nor mine, 
which are not, could discover any sign of 
the missing shoe. With woeful countenances 
we had to give it up and start on our three 
miles' row along the fjord to the hotel. But 
in the afternoon the idea came to me, " And 

In Answer to Prayer ^j 

why not ask our gracious Father for guidance 
in this trifle as well as for all the weightier 
things which we are constantly committing 
to His care? If the hairs of our head are 
all numbered, why not also the shoes of our 
feet?" I therefore asked Him that we might 
recover this lost golosh. And then I pro- 
posed that we should row back to the place. 
How magnificent the precipitous mountains 
and the far snow-fields looked that after- 
noon ! How insignificant our shallop, and 
our own imperceptible selves in that majestic 
amphitheatre, and how trifling the whole 
episode might seem to God ! But the place 
was one where we had enjoyed many singu- 
lar proofs of the divine love which shaped 
the mountains but has also a particular care 
for the emmets which nestle at their feet. 
And I was ashamed of myself for ever doubt- 
ing the particular care of an infinite love. 
When we reached the end of the fjord and 
had lashed the boat to the shore, I sprang 
on the rocks and went, I know not how or 
why, to one spot, not far from the water, 
a spot which I should have said we had 

88 In Answer to Prayer 

searched again and again in the morning, 
and there lay the shoe before my eyes, ob- 
vious, as if it had fallen from heaven ! 

I think I hear the cold laugh of prayerless 
men : '' And that is the kind of thing on 
which you rest your belief in prayer; a 
happy accident. Well, if you are super- 
stitious enough to attach any importance to 
that, you would swallow anything ! " And 
with a smile, not, I trust, scornful or im- 
patient, but full of quiet joy, I would reply: 
"Yes, if you will, that is the kind of thing; 
a trifle rising to the surface from the depths 
of a Father's love and compassion — those 
depths of God which you will not sound 
contain marvels greater it is true ; they are, 
however, ineffable, for the things of the 
Spirit will only be known to men of the 
Spirit. These trifles are all that can be ut- 
tered to those who will not search and see; 
trifles indeed, for no sign shall be given to 
this generation; which, if it will not prove 
the power of prayer by praying, shall not 
be convinced by marshalled instances of the 
answers of prayer." 

By the Rev. 


V^OU ask me to give my experience of 
1 answers to prayer. I have never had 
any doubt that Dean Milman was right 
when he said that personal religion be- 
comes impossible if prayer is not answered. 
Neither have I ever been able to appre- 
ciate the so-called scientific objection to 
prayer, as we have ample experience in 
the activity of our own will to illustrate 
the fact that invariable laws may be so 
manipulated and utilised as to produce 
results totally different from those which 

go In Answer to Prayer 

would have taken place if some free will 
had not intervened to use them. 

We must assume that God, who is the 
Author of all natural laws, can with infinite 
ease manipulate them so as to produce any 
desired result, without in the least degree 
altering their character or interfering with 
the universal reign of Law. 

However, what you want is not theory but 
actual experience. I will not refer, therefore, 
to the stupendous proofs that God does 
answer prayer, presented by Mr. Miiller of 
Bristol in his immense orphanages, or to 
similar unmistakable results in the various 
philanthropic institutions of Dr. Cullis of 
Boston. I will go at once to my own per- 
sonal experiences, and mention one or two 
facts that have come under my own obser- 
vation. There are a great many, but I will 
simply give a few typical cases. 

A good many years ago I was conducting 
a special mission in the neighbourhood of 
Chelsea. It is my custom on these occa- 
sions to invite members of the congrega- 
tion to send me in writing special requests 

In Answer to Prayer 91 

for the conversion of unsaved relatives or 
friends. On the Tuesday night, among 
many other requests for prayer, was one 
from a daughter for the conversion of her 
father. It was presented in due course with 
the rest, but no one at that moment knew 
the special circumstances of the case, ex- 
cept the writer. On the following Friday 
I received another request from the same 
woman ; but now it was a request for praise, 
describing the circumstances under which 
the prayer had been answered, and I read 
the wonderful story to the congregation. 

It appeared that this girl's father was an 
avowed infidel who had not been to any 
place of worship for many years, and he 
disliked the subject of religion so intensely 
that he ultimately forbade his Christian 
daughter in London to write to him, as 
she was continually bringing in references 
to Christ. On the particular Tuesday even- 
ing in question, that infidel father was on 
his way to a theatre in some provincial 
town, more than a hundred miles from Lon- 
don. As he was walking to the theatre, 

92 In Answer to Prayer 

there was a sudden shower of rain which 
drove him for shelter into the vestibule of 
a chapel where a week-night service was 
being held. The preacher in the pulpit 
was a Boanerges, whose loud voice pene- 
trated into the lobby, and there was some- 
thing in what he said that attracted the 
attention of the infidel and induced him 
to enter the chapel. He became more and 
more interested as the sermon proceeded, and 
before its close he was deeply convinced 
of sin, and in true penitence sought mercy 
from Jesus Christ. I need scarcely say to 
any one who knows anything of the love 
of God, that this prayer was speedily an- 
swered, and he went home rejoicing in 
divine forgiveness. The next day he wrote 
to his daughter in London telling her that 
he had set out on the previous evening 
intending to visit the theatre, but had 
actually found his way into a chapel, where 
his sins had been forgiven and his heart 
changed. He wrote at once to tell her the 
good news, and he assured her that he 
would now be only too glad to hear from 

In Answer to Prayer 93 

her as often as she could write to him. These 
facts were communicated through me to the 
congregation, and we all gave thanks to God. 

Of course it may be said that the conver- 
sion of this man, who had not been into a 
place of worship for more than a dozen years, 
was a mere accident, and that its coming 
at the very time we were praying for him was 
a mere coincidence. But we need not quarrel 
about words. All we need to establish is, 
that such delightful accidents and such 
blessed coincidences are continually occur- 
ring in the experience of all real Christians. 
I may add generally, that it is our custom 
to present written requests for prayer and 
written requests for praise at the devotional 
meetings of the West London Mission every 
Friday night. This has now gone on with- 
out interruption for more than nine years, 
and I scarcely remember a prayer-meeting 
at which we have not had some request for 
praise on account of prayer answered. 

It may be argued, however, that all such 
cases are purely subjective, and that they 
take place in the mysterious darkness and 

94 In Answer to Prayer 

silence of the human heart. Let my next 
illustration, then, be of a much more tangible 
character. Let it refer to pounds, shillings, 
and pence. 

Not long ago the West London Mission 
was greatly in want of money, as has gen- 
erally been its experience since it began. It 
would seem as though God could not trust us 
with any margin. Perhaps if we had a con- 
siderable balance in the bank we should put 
our trust in that, instead of realising every 
moment our absolute dependence on God. 
Like the Children of Israel in the Wilderness, 
we have had supplies of manna just suffi- 
cient for immediate need. Always in want, 
always tempted to be anxious, it has always 
happened at the last moment, when the case 
seemed absolutely desperate, that help has 
been forthcoming, sometimes from the most 
unexpected quarter. But a short time ago 
the situation appeared to be unusually alarm- 
ing, and I invited my principal colleague to 
meet me near midnight — the only time when 
we could secure freedom from interruption 
and rest from our own incessant work. 

In Answer to Prayer 95 

We spent some time, in the quietness of 
that late hour, imploring God to send us one 
thousand pounds for His work by a particular 
day. In the course of the meeting one of 
our number burst forth into rapturous ex- 
pressions of gratitude, as he was irresistibly 
convinced that our prayer was heard and 
would be answered. I confess I did not 
share his absolute confidence, and the abso- 
lute confidence of my wife and some others. 
I believed with trembhng. I am afraid 
I could say nothing more than " Lord, I 
believe, help Thou my unbelief." The ap- 
pointed day came. I went to the meeting at 
which the sum total would be announced. It 
appeared that in a very short time and in 
very extraordinary ways nine hundred and 
ninety pounds had been sent to the West 
London Mission. I confess that, as a theo- 
logian I was perplexed. We had asked for 
a thousand pounds — there was a deficiency 
of ten. I could not understand it. I went 
home, trying to explain the discrepancy. As 
I entered my house and was engaged in 
taking off my hat and coat, I noticed a letter 

g6 In Answer to Prayer 

on the table in the hall. I remembered that 
it had been lying there when I went out, but 
I was in a great hurry and did not stop to 
open it. I took it up, opened it, and dis- 
covered that it contained a cheque for ten 
pounds for the West London Mission, bring- 
ing up the amount needed for that day to 
the exact sum which we had named in our 
midnight prayer-meeting. Of course this 
also may be described as a mere coincidence, 
but all we want is coincidences of this sort. 
The name is nothing, the fact is everything, 
and there have been many such facts. 

Let me give one other in reference to 
money, as this kind of illustration will per- 
haps, more than any other, impress those 
who are disposed to be cynical and to scoff. 
I was engaged in an effort to build Sunday 
schools in the south of London. A bene- 
volent friend promised a hundred pounds 
if I could get nine hundred pounds more, 
within a week. I did my utmost, and 
by desperate efforts, with the assistance of 
friends, did get eight hundred pounds, but 
not one penny more. We reached Satur- 

In Answer to Prayer 97 

day, and the terms of all the promises were 
that unless we obtained a thousand pounds 
that week we could not proceed with the 
building scheme, and the entire enterprise 
might have been postponed for years, and, 
indeed, never accomplished on the large 
scale we desired. On the Saturday morning 
one of my principal church officers called, 
and said he had come upon an extraordinary 
business: that a Christian woman in that 
neighbourhood whom I did not know, of 
whom I had never heard, who had no con- 
nection whatever with my church, had that 
morning been lying awake in bed, and an 
extraordinary impression had come in to 
her that she was at once to give me one 
hundred pounds ! She naturally resisted so 
extraordinary an impression as a caprice or 
a delusion. But it refused to leave her; it 
became stronger and stronger, until at last 
she was deeply convinced that it was the 
will of God. What made it more extra- 
ordinary was the fact that she had never 
before had, and would, in all probability, 
never again have one hundred pounds at her 


98 In Answer to Prayer 

disposal for any such purpose. But that 
morning she sent me the money through 
my friend, who produced it in the form of 
crisp Bank of England notes. From that 
day to this I have no idea whatever who 
she was, as she wished to conceal her name 
from me. Whether she is alive or in heaven 
I cannot say; but what I do know is that 
this extraordinary answer to our prayers 
secured the rest of the money, and led to 
the erection of one of the finest schools 
in London, in which there are more than a 
thousand scholars to-day. 

Let me give one other illustration in a 
different sphere. God has answered our 
prayers again and again by saving those in 
whom we are interested, and by sending us 
money. He has also answered prayer for 
suitable agents to do His work. 

Twelve months ago I was sitting in my 
study at a very late hour; the rest of the 
household had gone to bed. I was par- 
ticularly conscious at that time that I greatly 
needed a lay agent, who could help me 
in work among the thousands of young 

In Answer to Prayer 99 

men from business houses who throng St. 
James's Hall. Several of our staff who 
could render efficient service in that direc- 
tion were fully occupied in other parts of 
the Mission. I prayed very earnestly to 
God, in my loneliness and helplessness; 
and whilst I was praying, an assurance was 
given me that God had heard my prayer. 
By the first post on the next morning I 
received a letter from a man whom I had 
never met, requesting an interview. I saw 
him. It turned out that he was a staff 
officer in the Salvation Army, and formerly 
a Methodist; and that for two years he had 
been longing for a sphere of work among 
young men. He had been himself in 
a Manchester business house, and he was 
extremely anxious for work among young 
fellows in the great business establishments. 
For various reasons a development of work 
in that direction, although it commanded 
the sympathy of the heads of the Salvation 
Army, could not be undertaken just then; 
and while he was praying upon the subject, 
it seemed to him as though a definite voice 

100 In Answer to Prayer 

said, "Offer yourself to Mr. Hugh Price 
Hughes." In obedience to that voice he 
came, and he is with us now. He has 
already gathered round him a large number 
of young men; and at our last Public 
Reception of new members I received into 
the mission church forty-two young men of 
this class, who had been brought to Christ, 
or to active association with His Church, 
through the agency of the man whom God 
so promptly sent me in the hour of my 

Nothing that I have said will in the least 
degree surprise earnest Christians and Chris- 
tian ministers. Such experiences as these 
are the commonplace of real and active 


By the Rev. 


IMMEDIATELY after my acceptance of 
the pastorate of the church to which I 
still minister, I arranged to continue and 
broaden my training by attending Science 
Classes at University College, London. It 
was in the year 1858. The day of science 
was in its briUiant and arresting dawn. 
Professor Huxley had been lecturing on 
biology at the Royal School of Mines for 
nearly four years, and his bold and masterly 
descriptions of " Man's Place in Nature," 
given to working men, had stirred many 

102 In Answer to Prayer 

minds. Darwin's '' Origin of Species " ap- 
peared in the following year. The young 
scientific spirit was daring and aggressive ; 
and scientific methods, though feared in 
most quarters, were demanding and winning 
confidence. I was sure science was one of 
the formative forces of the future, and 
therefore it seemed to me the teachers of 
Christianity of the next half-century would 
do well to make themselves practically ac- 
quainted with the methods pursued by 
scientific men, as well as conversant with 
the results of scientific work. 

One of Huxley's maxims was " The man 
of science has learnt to believe in justifica- 
tion by verification." Certainly! and why 
not? The Christian is bidden by the teacher 
who ranks next to Jesus Christ, our one and 
only Master, to " prove all things, and hold 
fast that which is good." Human experience 
is always verifying truth and exposing false- 
hood. New forces are set to work in the 
lives of men, and offer us their effects for 
examination. New acts repeated lead to new 
habits, and new habits make a new character. 

In Answer to Prayer 103 

If the gardener inserts a " bud " in the branch 
of a growing brier, and after a while beholds 
the beauty and inhales the fragrance of the 
" Gloire de Dijon" rose; if the surgeon 
" operates " one day, and a little while after- 
wards sees that the forces he has freed from 
the disabilities of disease are moving forward 
on their healing mission; so the Christian 
pastor may suggest a truth, inspire a new 
habit, direct to a new attitude of spirit, 
secure an uplift of soul, and afterwards trace 
the effect of these acts on the growth and 
development of character, and on the quan- 
tity and quality of the service given to the 
kingdom of righteousness and peace and joy 
in the Holy Ghost. " Experiments " in the 
field of human nature yield as really verifi- 
able results as those that are given in the 
nursery of the gardener or the laboratory of 
the chemist. 

But contact with scientific methods not 
only suggested that the pastorate would 
afford abundant opportunities for verifying 
the features and characteristics of the spirit 
of life in Jesus Christ, by a direct appeal to 

104 In Answer to Prayer 

facts in the manifold experiences of Chris- 
tian men ; it also changed the point of view, 
so that, instead of giving the first place 
amongst *' answers to prayer " to detached 
and easily reported incidents, that rank was 
assigned to experiences showing that prayer 
is one of the chief of the unseen forces in 
character-building, in deepening humility, in 
broadening sympathy, in preserving the 
heart tender and sensitive to human suffer- 
ing, in quickening aspiration, and giving 
the note of soul to a man's work and 

The materials sustaining that conclusion 
were abundant in the early years of my 
ministry; notably in one case I can never 
forget. On the first Sabbath evening of my 
ministry I was preaching on the words " Be 
ye reconciled to God." Amongst the listen- 
ers was one who had entered the house of 
prayer without any sense of alienation from 
God or hunger for His revelation, and, as 
she afterwards confessed, merely to please 
her sister. But " the Lord opened her 
heart to give heed to the things that were 

In Answer to Prayer 105 

spoken," so that she forthwith sought and 
found peace with God through our Lord 
Jesus Christ. 

Nor did she only obtain peace. With 
Wordsworth she could say: 

** I bent before Thy gracious throne 

And asked for peace with suppliant knee, 
And peace was given, nor peace alone, 
But faith and hope and ecstasy." 

Faith and hope, ecstasy and prayer, were 
the outstanding features of her new life. 
She had little time for special acts of Chris- 
tian service, and scant means wherewith to 
enrich the Church; but, according to the 
witness of those who had known her long- 
est, her character was clad in entirely new 
charms, and her spirit was fired and filled 
with new energies. She grew in experience 
of the grace and love of God, and became 
at home with God in the deepest sense, 
and seemed rarely, if ever, absent from her 
chosen dwelling-place. Her strongest feel- 
ing was for God, all investing, all encircling; 
and with reverent freedom and sweet security 
she lived and moved and had her being in 

io6 In Answer to Prayer 

communion with the eternal Father. Prayer 
was not a task for specific occasions ; it was 
the breath of her Hfe. It was not a wrestle 
or a struggle ; it was an uplifting of her 
being into a fellowship with God. It did not 
shrivel into a litany of petitions ; it was sus- 
tained aspiration ; and aspiration is a large 
part of achievement; it was deepest satis- 
faction with God, and His will and His 
work : and such satisfaction is itself a source 
of patient strength and a preparation for 

Nor was the effect limited. Her nature 
received a refinement, an elevation, a beauty 
that triumphed over the physical features, 
and shone out with a glory that is not seen 
on sea or shore. The expression of her 
face seemed to be from God. A trans- 
figuring radiance came from within as she 
thought on the wonders and delighted in 
the treasures of the gospel of God. Hers 
was a noble life. Like Martha, she was 
engaged in "much serving;" but yet was 
never cumbered and worn with it, because, 
like Mary, she sat daily at the Master's feet, 

In Answer to Prayer 107 

and listened to His words, and received His 
sustaining strength. She was as sweetly un- 
selfish as the flowers, and gave herself and 
her '* all " to Christ, like the widow of the 
gospels. Meekness and humility clothed her 
with their loveliest robes. I never knew a 
purer spirit. She always breathed the soft- 
ness and gentleness of the Saviour, and yet 
I have seen her weak body quiver and throb 
with its anguish of desire for the salvation 
of the lost. Faithful unto death, she realised 
the support and joy of the Christian's hope, 
and gently as leaves are shed by the flower 
that has finished its course, she fell into the 
arms of Jesus ; and as Deborah, Rebekah's 
nurse, was buried under the " oak of weep- 
ing" amid afl"ectionate regrets and sweet 
memories, so this Christian servant was laid 
in the grave with tears of real sorrow from 
those whom she had served so faithfully and 
long, as well as from friends who had been 
gladdened and fortified in the faith of Christ 
by her sweet, earnest, and beautiful Christian 
life. That day is now far ofl", but the influ- 
ence of her prayer-filled life still feeds faith 

io8 In Answer to Prayer 

in God as the Hearer and the Answerer of 

About the same time and in the same 
spiritual laboratory I was called to observe 
the following processes. A woman, the wife 
of a blacksmith, was led by the gospel of 
Christ into the joy of salvation. Her ex- 
perience of the grace of God in Christ was 
vivid and full. She knew little of doubt 
concerning herself, but she was full of solici- 
tude for her husband and children ; for she 
had a very heavy burden to carry, and her 
heart was sore stricken. Her husband was 
a drunkard. When sober he was true, de- 
voted, and loving; but when he fell into 
intemperance he became hard, harsh, and 
even violent. But never did the brave and 
trustful wife cease to hope or cease to pray. 
In the darkest hours she begged for the con- 
version of her husband, and felt sure that 
God would respond to her supplications. 
That was her habitual mood, her supreme 
desire, her living prayer; and I could see 
that this very disposition developed her saint- 
liness, deepened her affection for her hus- 

In Answer to Prayer 109 

band, and gave increased beauty to her 
family life, as well as added to her useful- 
ness in the Church. 

One day, in the course of my pastoral 
visits, I called at the blacksmith's home. 
Scarcely was the threshold crossed when the 
husband rushed in, wild, angry, and violent, 
the prey of intoxicants. But before he had 
proceeded far the wife approached him, 
flung her arms around him, called him by 
name, and said : " Ah, God will give you to 
me yet." Saint Ambrose told Monica, when 
she went to him, sad and desponding about 
her son, '' God would not forget the prayers 
of such a mother," and Augustine came, 
though late in his young manhood, into the 
kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ. So I 
felt the earnest pleadings of this true wife 
and mother would not be forgotten of God, 
but that, according to her own beautiful 
saying, God would *' give her husband to 
her; " for she did not think he was com- 
pletely hers whilst he was under the do- 
minion of intoxicants, — give him to her 
freed from that depraving and desolating 

no In Answer to Prayer 

slavery. And it was so. For he, too, be- 
came a Christian, and they together effec- 
tively served their generation according to 
the will of God, ** turning men from dark- 
ness to light, and from the power of Satan 
unto God." 

There recurs to me the image of a visitor 
who called one Sunday evening in 1862, and 
who wished to know what he was to do in 
order to control and suppress an ungovern- 
able temper. For years it had tortured him 
past all bearing, and, what was worse, for 
years it had been a source of pain and dis- 
comfort in his home. When his anger was 
kindled he was by his own confession a 
terror to wife and children, and, seeing that 
he had recently become a Christian, he felt 
acutely the stain such actions fixed on gar- 
ments that should have been unspotted by 
the world. "What must I do? I can't go 
on in this way, and yet though I feel it is 
wrong I can't help myself." 

The first suggestion I ventured was based 
on the regard he had expressed for his 
pastor. " What would be the effect," said I, 

In Answer to Prayer hi 

" on you, if I were to appear at the moment 
the storm was about to burst? Think ! " 

He thought, and then said, " It would n't 
burst. I should stop it." 

''Well, then, try this plan. Force your- 
self at the moment of peril into the conscious 
presence of God, and say, as you feel the 
uprising passion, * O God, make me master 
of myself.' Pray that prayer; and pray, 
morning by morning, that you may so pray 
in your time of need ; and in due season you 
will obtain the perfect mastery of yourself 
you seek." He promised. I watched. He 
prayed. He conquered; once, twice, thrice, 
and then failed ; but he renewed the attempt, 
and triumphed again, and years afterwards I 
knew him as one of the most serene of men ; 
and when he died, no phase of his character 
stood out more distinctively than his perfect 
self-control, and no fact in his life was re- 
membered with deeper gratitude by his 
bereaved wife than that memorable victory 
won by prayer in the early days of his disci- 
pleship to the Lord Jesus. 

From the beginning of my ministry I have 

112 In Answer to Prayer 

made it my business to offer advice and aid 
to young men and maidens assailed with 
doubts and fears concerning the revelation 
of God in Christ, hindered at the outset by 
misconceptions of the *' way of salvation," 
and perplexed by confused and contradictory 
teaching. Hundreds of young men (and 
within the last ten years especially, many 
young women) have described to me their 
difficulties as they have reached the stage 
described by Roscoe in the words, '* There 
are times when faith is weak and the heart 
yearns for knowledge." 

Here is a *' case " chosen from a large 
number of similar facts. A young man came 
to tell me the somewhat familiar story, that 
the first fervours of his religious life had 
cooled down, his early raptures were gone, 
and the sense of peace and bounding free- 
dom, and of all-sufficing strength in God, 
had departed with them. The certainties of 
the opening months or years of the Christian 
pilgrimage had given place to torturing ques- 
tions, such as, ''Am I not deceived? After 
all, is Chrisrtianity true? What are its real 

In Answer to Prayer 113 

contents? What is inspiration? Did mir- 
acles happen?" etc., etc. Week after week 
we reasoned and argued, and months passed 
in a struggle whose usefulness no one could 
register, and whose issue no one could 

But it " happened," as these conversations 
were going on, that he was " drawn " into 
what I may call a '' prayer circle," privately 
carried on by a small group of young men 
who were not unacquainted with such con- 
flicts as those which then engaged his 
powers. He joined it, and by-and-by felt 
its influence. He was lifted into another 
atmosphere, and breathed a clearer, sunnier 
air. His misgivings were slowly displaced 
by missionary enthusiasm, and his fears by 
a stronger faith; and yet he had not solved 
the problems suggested by the person of 
Christ, or found the secret of the Incar- 
nation, or explained the mystery of the 
Atonement. But he had been led to set 
the full force of his nature on communion 
with God; and prayer had quickened the 
sense for spiritual realities, for the recog- 

114 In Answer to Prayer 

nition of the infinite value of the human 
soul, and for the wonder and splendour 
of God's salvation. In that realm of prayer, 
character was altered, the aim of life was 
altered, the will had a new goal, and so 
the questions of the intellect fell into their 
true place in reference to the whole of the 
questions of life. Emerson writes, "When 
all is said and done, the rapt saint is found 
the only logician." It is he who thinks the 
most sanely and dwells nearest the central 
truths of life and being. It is he who 
becomes serenely acquiescent in the agnos- 
ticism of the Bible, and realises that revela- 
tion must contain many things past finding 
out, whilst the Spirit, who is the revealer, 
gives us the best assurances of the certitude 
and clearness of what it is most important 
for us to know. 

So often have I seen this rest-giving effect 
on the intellect, of the lifting of the life into 
communion with God, that I cannot hesitate 
to regard it as a law of the life of man, and 
yet I must add that I do not think it wise to 
meet those who ask our aid in the treatment 

In Answer to Prayer 115 

of their mental perplexities merely, or at 
first, with the counsel to pray. Most likely 
they will misunderstand it, and it will be- 
come to them a stone of stumbling and a 
rock of offence. We had better, if we are 
able, meet them first on their own ground, 
that of the intellect, and meet them with 
frankness and sympathy, with knowledge 
and tact; and yet seek by the spirit we 
breathe, and the associations into which we 
introduce them, to raise them where the 
Saviour's beatitude shall become an experi- 
ence: "Blessed are the pure in heart, for 
they shall see God." 

Prayer has often proved itself an infallible 
recipe for dejection. A man of culture and 
wealth was for a long time pursued by what 
seemed to him an intolerable and invariable 
melancholy. He sought relief near and far, 
and sought in vain. He became a source of 
anxiety to his friends. He went away to 
Bellagio, goaded by the same restlessness, 
but its lovely surroundings did not heal, 
its soft airs did not soothe. No ! All was 
dark and repellent. Even prayer seemed of 

ii6 In Answer to Prayer 

no use. God had forgotten him. He was 
cast off as reprobate. His soul was dis- 
quieted within him. The burden of his 
misery was more than he could carry. He 
threatened to take away his life. But in 
his despair he still clung to his God; and 
at last, as in this desperate, and yet not 
altogether hopeless or prayerless mood, he 
read a sermon on " Elijah as a brave prophet 
tired of life ; " hope was reborn and joy 
restored, and as Bunyan's pilgrim lost his 
burden at the cross, so this Elijah escaped 
from his tormentors, and came forth and 
dwelt in the light of God's countenance. 
It was the prayer of a weak and struggling 
faith; but God did not turn it away, nor 
reject the voice of his supplication. 
What abundant witness that 

" More things are wrought by prayer 
Than this world dreams of" 

could be supplied by pastors and elders who 
have visited the widow and the fatherless, 
the sick and suffering in their afflictions. 
One picture comes to me from the crowded 
past, of a strong and victorious, though 

In Answer to Prayer 117 

much enduring saint. Crippled by disease, 
she did not rise from her bed unaided for 
more than seven years. She was always 
in pain, sometimes heavy and dull, but not 
infrequently keen and sharp. Yet through 
all these years, she not only did not com- 
plain, but she had such an overflow of 
quiet cheerfulness and of deep interest in 
life that she distributed her gladness to 
others and made them partakers of her 
serenity. You could not detain her in talk 
about herself, her ailments, her broken plans, 
her manifold disappointments. No! she 
would compel you to talk of the Church, 
its schools, its missions, its various activi- 
ties ; of societies and movements for get- 
ting rid of social evils, such as intemperance 
and impurity. Sometimes the theme was 
last Sunday's sermons, or those in prepa- 
ration for the next; but rarely herself. 
There she lay with a patience that was 
never ruffled, a serenity rarely if ever dis- 
turbed, a forgetfulness of self bright and 
fresh, a sohcitude for others deep and full, 
and a fellowship with God not only un- 

ii8 In Answer to Prayer 

broken, but so inspiring as to make the 
sick-room a sanctuary radiant with His 
presence. Prayer led her to the fountains 
of divine joy, daily she drank and was 

So I set down a few tested, verified facts 
from the early part of a ministry of over 
thirty-eight years ; facts chosen from amongst 
many, and in substance repeated again and 
again during recent, but not yet reportable 

By the Very Rev, 

G. D. BOYLE, M.A. 

Dean of Salisbury 

" "\ X THAT was it that struck you most 
V V in that sermon on the character 
of St. Paul?" said Bishop Patteson to a 
friend at Oxford, who had been with him 
listening to a sermon preached before the 
University by a very remarkable man, who 
has now passed away. ''Those two sen- 
tences," said his friend, " in which he said 
there were two great powers in the world, 
the power of personal religion, and the power 
of prayer." When I told this many years 
afterwards to one of the best parish priests I 

I20 In Answer to Prayer 

have ever known, he gave me, from his own 
experience, some instances of answers to 
prayer which are certainly worth reading. 

Shortly after he had entered Holy Orders, 
he joined a clerical society. He was greatly 
pleased with three of the younger members, 
but thought from their conversation after the 
meeting that they were too fond of amuse- 
ments. As he walked home he spoke of this 
to an elderly clergyman, who said, " Let you 
and me make for them special prayer, that 
they may take a more serious view of their 
calling." Some time afterwards my friend 
happened to see one of these three brother 
clergymen at a time of great sorrow. He 
told him that he had resolved to give up 
certain amusements, which he thought at 
one time harmless. Some time afterwards 
the other two openly declared that they had 
taken a similar course, and my friend did not 
scruple to avow his belief that the after lives 
of these three men, all of high family, and 
all remarkable for their zeal as clergymen, 
was a direct answer to special intercession. 

He told me of a still more striking 

In Answer to Prayer 121 

instance. Two men, who had been friends 
at college, met after many years abroad. 
The one said to the other, '' When you were 
at Oxford, you told me you were very indif- 
ferent as to religion, so I suppose you will 
not go with me this morning to the English 
service." *^ But I certainly will," said his 
friend. " I have given up all that sort of 
thing; I left off praying for years, in the 
belief that as God knows everything it was 
needless to pray, but an impulse came upon 
me after hearing Baron Parke's account of a 
sermon he heard Shergold Boone preach, 
and I am now a communicant." "Then, 

dear ," said his friend, "I think my 

prayer is answered, for I have never ceased 
since Oxford days to ask that you might 
have the happiness I enjoy." 

These two are surely remarkable instances 
of answers to special prayer for spiritual 

What shall be said of the faithful man who, 
through his own effort, maintained a small 
but efficient orphanage? From no fault of 
his own his supplies ceased. There came 

122 In Answer to Prayer 

into his mind some words of Edward Irving's 
about the Fatherhood of God. He made a 
special petition for the relief of his poor 
children. On his return home he found a 
letter containing a request that the future 
welfare of his home should be ensured by a 
permanent endowment. 

" How could you keep your temper through 
all the vexatious dispute of to-night's de- 
bate?" was the question asked of Lord 
Althorpe by his most intimate friend, after 
a fierce discussion on the Reform Bill. *' I 
always ask for strength before going to the 
House," was the answer; "and to-day I 
asked for special strength, for I knew that 
party spirit ran high." 

Many years ago I worked as a curate in 
the district which had seen the first labours 
of the excellent Bishop of Wakefield, whose 
sudden removal from active work will long 
be deeply mourned by the Church of Eng- 
land. When he left Kidderminster for a 
country parish, he gave a New Testament 
to a young man who had at one time prom- 
ised well, but who fell into bad company. 

In Answer to Prayer 123 

" I shall make you the subject of special 
prayer," said the Bishop, on wishing him 
good-bye. Some years afterwards I told 
the Bishop that his advice had not been 
thrown away, and his words were, " I humbly 
hope my prayer was heard." 

Bishop Mackenzie told a friend of mine 
that he had asked for some change in the 
life of two favourite pupils at Cambridge. 
They were not in the habit of going to 
University sermons, but they went to hear 
one of Bishop Selwyn's famous series in 
1854. One of them became an eminent 
clergyman, and the other died a missionary 
in India. 

One more instance will suffice. An attack 
upon the divinity of Christ was published 
some years ago by one who had been trained 
in a very different way. His former tutor, 
who had a very great love for him, asked 
a few friends not to forget him. As the 
tutor was dying, he had the satisfaction 
of hearing that the man he had known and 
loved from childhood had returned to the 
faith of a child. 

124 In Answer to Prayer 

I believe that all who have had consider- 
able experience in parochial work could 
give many instances of special answers to 
prayer. In recent years many have come 
forward to offer themselves for labor at 
home and abroad. The present occupation 
of many minds with the difficulties of belief, 
the revelations made by earnest thinkers like 
Romanes, the questions raised in such lives 
as the late Master of Balliol's, the earnest 
longings for some reconciliation between the 
men of science and the men of faith, may all 
surely be accepted as in some degree answers 
to the prayers and aspirations of all who 
hope that in the Church of the future there 
may be found a simple faith, an enduring 
charity, and a belief in the unchangeable 
strength of an unchangeable Saviour. 

Date Due 

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